An acute copper deficiency is easily distinguished through blood testing, however subclinical deficiencies are more difficult. Naturally occurring copper deficiency is almost entirely confined to grazing cattle and sheep, usually due to copper deficient herbage, but are also found where the molybdenum or iron intake and retention is high. Localized cases of copper deficiency were discovered in England, Wales, Florida and the USSR.
Symptoms include loss of hair color, weight loss, Tremor, ataxia and clonic seizure, fertility and reproductive problems. Dietary changes can reverse conditions.
Copper in Plant, Animal and Human Nutrition. CDA Publication TN35, 1988
Copper deficiency influences the coat color and quality. It can also lead to abnormalities in bone, cartilage, tendons and ligaments and reduces important enzyme function. Deficiency has been linked to uterine artery rupture in Mares, a fatal complication of labor. Developmental bone disease has been diagnosed in copper deficient foals.
Copper deficiency may be primarily linked to a lack of copper intake or be due to an imbalance intake of other trace elements such as Molybdenum and Zinc.
Pagan J. Micromineral Requirements in Horses. Kentucky Equine Research.
Copper is normally found in small traces in the brain, heart, kidney, bones and the liver of healthy dogs. CT occurs when the liver does not process copper properly, allowing build ups of abnormal amounts. As the copper accumulates, liver damage occurs.
CT is a particular Problem of genetic origin in Beddlington Terriers, but has been recognized in up to 53 other breeds, including Dalmations, Doberman Pinschers, Laborador retrievers, Anatolian shephards and others. Symptoms include weight loss, anorexia, Depression, vomiting, weakness, lethargy and Dehydration. In the later stages, hemorrhaging occurs, leading to blood in stool.
If the diagnosis has been made through blood and urine analysis and possibly a liver biopsy, treatment involves chelation with copper-reducing medication. Early detection is important. Hair analysis is useful only in the early stages.
Further Information: AKC Canine Health Foundation www.akcchf.org/canine-health
The dietary intake of copper, molybdenum, sulfur, zinc, cadmium and iron affects copper absorption and retention in the body. Sheep are far more sensitive than cattle and are more at risk from soil contaminated with copper. Chronic copper exposure can result in excess copper storage in the liver, which can lead to hemolysis. Cattle are more tolerant of a high copper intake. Acute copper toxicity is characterized by Salivation, vomiting, convulsions and eventually paralysis.
Copper in Plant, Animal and Human Nutrition. CDA Publ TN35, 1988